UFC 117: Going (Going) Back (Back) to Oakland (Oakland)
Even though the UFC just had a solid Versus show last Sunday, it has been a month since UFC 116, where we witnessed Brock Lesnar whether the Shane Carwin storm for his first UFC submission victory, Chris Leben pull off a his second win in as many weeks, and Stephan Bonnar even the score with K-Sos (I’m mildly intrigued by a rubber match down the road given what a slugfest the fight turned out to be, I must admit).
UFC 117, it’s a USA vs. Brazil PPV card with the smack-talkin’ Republican from Oregon, Chael Sonnen taking on UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the main bout. Hopefully, UFC officials will put a mood ring on Silva to determine whether or not he’ll be dancing or destroying come game time…
Preliminary Card Quick Picks
Dustin Hazelett over Rick Story
Phil Davis over Rodney Wallace
Tim Boetsch over Todd Brown
Johny Hendricks over Charlie Brenneman
Stefan Struve over Christian Morecraft
Ben Saunders over Dennis Hallman
Roy Nelson vs. Junior dos Santos
It’s a shame Roy Nelson won’t be coming out to “I’m Fat” by Weird Al again. I think I made that joke in an earlier post but it gets me every time. After KO-ing Brendan Schaub in the opening round of the TUF 11 Finale (and doing the same to Stefan Struve) “Big Country” gets a big step up in competition with Junior dos Santos, who has run through not only Struve himself, but Werdum The Fedor Killer, Cro-Cop, Gilbert Yvel, and most recently Gabe Gonzaga at UFC: Vera vs Jones. The main question on everyone’s mind seems to be how well will JDS respond if Nelson uses that big belly and BJJ black belt to get the fight on the floor. I think that would be his best bet since JDS has been fantastic on his feet. Big Country is tough to avoid a R1 ugly KO, but I think JDS puts him away eventually and solidifies his status as the #1 contender after Lesnar/Velasquez. Fortunately, a Nelson loss could set up a great rematch to avenge his IFL loss to Ben Rothwell in ’07
Jay Pick: Junior dos Santos via TKO, R2
Okay, even though this fight is stretching the unofficial Brazil vs. USA tagline a bit (Almeida is Brazilian-American, born in NYC), I’ll let it slide since it’s omission as a Nation vs. Nation fight ruins some of the fun and marketing behind it. The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt is riding a 3-fight winning streak, most recently subbing Matt Brown at UFC 111 this past February. He’s, surprisingly, a slight favorite with odds makers against Hughes, who most recently took out Almeida’s teacher, Renzo Gracie at UFC 112. While Hughes’ wrestling plays well into Almeida’s jiu jitsu, I have to go with Hughes on this one. Sure, he’s a little old in the tooth (and yes, I just used that phrase to emphasize how he’s aged) but he’s only lost to Alves and GSP over the past few years. The stronger competition, combined with his size and power should be the difference.
Jay Pick: Hughes via TKO, R3
Clay Guida vs. Rafael dos Anjos
By my count, I have the USA vs. Brazil score card tied at 1-1. Heading down to the UFC lightweight division we have Clay Guida vs Rafael dos Anjos. Much like the Hughes/Almeida fight, this is, and forgive simplicity, a wrestling vs. jiu-jitsu match. Dos Anjos has rattled off 3 wins, most recently subbing Terry Etim via armbar at UFC 112, since a rocky start in the UFC where he’d dropped two in a row to Jeremy Stephens and Tyson Griffin (who, might I add, probably just ‘came to’ right now from that fantastic right hook from Takanori Gomi last Sunday on the Versus card). Guida’s only really losses came to some of the best in the division (KenFlo, Diego Sanchez, Roger “Street Justice” Huerta back in ’07). His cardio is insane and his smothering wrestling game will wear down dos Anjos for the decision.
Jay Pick: Clay Guida via decision
Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves
The UFC has already stated that this fight will determine the #1 contender to the winner of GSP vs. Koscheck later this year. Alves, recovering from a brain abnormality that scrapped this proposed rematch earlier this year, has become one of the bigger, heavier hitters in the WW division. Before his decision loss to GSP last year at UFC 100, he held consecutive victories over Fitch’s AKA teammate Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes, Karo Parisyan, and Chris Lytle. Fitch on the other hand has continued his “The Decision Tour” by outwrestling Ben Saunders, Mike Pierce, Paulo Thiago, and Akihiro Gono…since HIS decision loss to GSP back at UFC 87. Their first encounter was on the Ultimate Fight Night 5 card in June ’06, which was Fitch’s last striking finish after catching Alves with an upkick to seal the deal. Alves has become a smarter, stronger fighter since then, but given the recovery from the brain scare and reports that he’s struggling to make weight, I think Fitch will find away to wear Alves down. Sorry, Brazil.
Jay Pick: Fitch via decision
With the USA (again, by my completely useless estimation) up 3-1, will the Spider end the night on a solid note for the Brazilians? Before I give my prediction, some background: I give a lot of credit to Sonnen for his bizarre, sh*t talking hype train around this fight. Though the issue has been beaten to death, Silva’s most recent antics against Cote, Leites and Maia have left a bad taste in the fans’ mouths and that unfortunately does not translate well into PPV buys. I though the tide from Cote/Leites had died with Silva’s God-like destruction of Forrest Griffin at 101, but Silva upped the ante by dancing his way to a decision against Maia. Sonnen has worked hard for his past 3 decision victories, most recently outwrestling and overpowering a heavily-favored Nate Marquardt at 109 to earn the title shot. Sonnen is, in many ways, the perfect opponent to get Silva to wake up: he’s a little nuts, determined, got a chip on his shoulder, and will be constantly push the action to secure a takedown. With Dana White threatening to fire Silva if he clowns around and Sonnen talking like the politician that he’s trying to be, I suspect Silva will absolutely obliterate him in the first round.
Jay Pick: Anderson Silva via Video Game-like destruction, R1
A Final Note: For those of you picking Chael Sonnen by decision or otherwise, please give a legit explanation as to why you think he’ll win and don’t simply pick it to say “I called it!” It’s MMA. There are upsets. Don’t act special.
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anderson silva, Chael Sonnen, Clay Guida, Jon Fitch, Junior dos Santos, Matt Hughes, Ricardo Almeida, Roy Nelson, Thiago Alves, UFC 117